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August 31, 2010

Michael Winship: The Awful Price for Teaching Less than We Know

(Photo by Robin Holland)

Below is an article by Public Affairs Television senior writer Michael Winship.

The Awful Price for Teaching Less than We Know
By Michael Winship

Watching Glenn Beck's performance Saturday at his "Restoring Honor" rally in Washington, DC, I thought of the novelist Sinclair Lewis' Elmer Gantry, the charlatan evangelist who seduces most of those around him with his hearty backslapping and false piety.

Then I realized it wasn't Gantry of whom I was reminded so much as another Lewis character, Berzelius "Buzz" Windrip, the politician who poses as a populist, then once elected president turns the United States into a fascist dictatorship, aided by an angry, unknowing electorate and a paramilitary group called the Minute Men.

Read how Sinclair Lewis described Windrip seventy-five years ago in his novel It Can't Happen Here and think Beck: "He was an actor of genius. There was no more overwhelming actor on the stage, in the motion pictures, nor even in the pulpit. He would whirl arms, bang tables, glare from mad eyes, vomit Biblical wrath from a gaping mouth; but he would also coo like a nursing mother, beseech like an aching lover, and in between tricks would coldly and almost contemptuously jab his crowds with figures and facts -- figures and facts that were inescapable even when, as often happened, they were entirely incorrect.

Continue reading "Michael Winship: The Awful Price for Teaching Less than We Know" »


August 22, 2008

UPDATE: Alive in Baghdad: Iraqi Children Speak Out

UPDATE: Brian Conley, of Alive in Baghdad, has recently been detained by the Chinese authorities while reporting on pro-Tibet demonstrations in Beijing. Family members, who have not heard directly from Brian, believe that he has recently been sentenced to 10 days of detention for "upsetting public order".

Read more at The New York Times and Boing Boing.

And read more about China and human rights here.


This week on THE JOURNAL, NPR's Deborah Amos, just back from Damascus, explains:

I keep saying I cover Iraq - I just don't ever go there. But to do Lebanon, Jordan and Syria is essentially to cover Iraq, because the issues that are roiling Iraq are the same issues that now are playing out. Everything is hooked to everything else.

And according to a recent mid-year review by the International Organization for Migration:

Iraq is experiencing the worst human displacement of its history, with almost 2.2 million persons displaced within its borders and an additional two million who have fled the country to the surrounding region. This mass displacement is fast becoming a regional and ultimately international crisis.

Continue reading "UPDATE: Alive in Baghdad: Iraqi Children Speak Out" »


February 25, 2008

Bill Moyers Rewind: Seyyed Hossein Nasr on Finding Peace in the Middle East (1990)

In a conversation with Bill Moyers on WORLD OF IDEAS in 1990, three years before the first attack on the World Trade Center, Mideast scholar Seyyed Hossein Nasr discussed the prospects of achieving regional peace given increasing unrest in parts of the Islamic world, rising anti-western sentiment, and the first Gulf War.

"[The symbolism of American and other western troops being stationed near Mecca and Medina] in many Muslims' eyes is kind of a final desecration of things Islam, the final humiliation that Muslims can't defend even the center of their world."

Click below to watch the interview:


We invite you to respond by commenting below.


January 18, 2008

Democratization, U.S. Foreign Policy, and The Middle East

In his conversation with Bill Moyers on this week’s JOURNAL, journalist Craig Unger said:

“It does seem at times we don’t seem aware of the consequences of our actions. We go around talking about democracy, but the Saudis, of course, are a brutal theocracy. There’s not much in the way of human rights there. The whole vision of democratizing the Middle East, I think, really, in practical terms, has fallen by the wayside. And America’s objectives really, when it comes down to it, seem to be Israel’s security and oil... The whole vision is in tatters right now. And it’s very unclear what options the United States has... Our policies are so full of contradictions. And I think if you go back to the roots of it, it was built on so many misconceptions that a lot of this is coming home to roost.”

What do you think?

  • Is Unger correct that Israel’s security and oil are the foundations of America’s policies in the Middle East?

  • Does U.S. involvement with and support of non-Democratic regimes undermine the goal of “democratizing the Middle East?” Is that an appropriate objective of American foreign policy?

  • How would you reformulate American foreign policy to fit the world of 2008?

    (Photo by Robin Holland)


  • October 12, 2007

    Difference, Dissent and Tyranny

    This week on THE JOURNAL, Anouar Majid, professor of English at the University of New England, explains that dissent in communities is vital to maintaining social, cultural and intellectual curiosity. Stifling disagreement and smothering debate, he believes, can have dangerous effects on a civilization:

    People who cannot live comfortably with differences always have a tendency to slide into tyranny. That's why we have to maintain vast differences within every society...to prevent those practices from ever taking root.

    Yet even though constructive conversation is often desirable, is it always possible? As Bill Moyers asks Professor Majid:

    You can't have a conversation with somebody who doesn't think you're human, a conversation with somebody who wants to kill you, somebody who thinks you're subhuman, somebody whose purpose is to manipulate you, right?

    How would you answer Bill Moyers' question? We invite you to respond by commenting below.

    Photo: Robin Holland


    July 25, 2007

    Preview: Al Qaeda, Earmarks

    Watch the video

    This Week on Bill Moyers Journal:

    As the Bush administration promotes the idea that Al Qaeda is the enemy in Iraq, the Journal analyzes the facts on the ground to explore who the U.S. is really fighting. Also on the program, a report on the hidden spending provisions used by Congress known as earmarks—“pipelines of cash” added to legislation without any debate, public hearing or oversight—which are often used as payback for political contributions. As Congress works to put reforms in place, is it business as usual?


    Check Your Local Listings here and we'll see you on the blog after the show.


    June 25, 2007

    Extended Interviews with Four Muslim Women

    As you saw in last week's interview with Imam Zaid Shakir, Journal Producer Candace White spoke with four Muslim women in the San Francisco Bay area about being a Muslim woman in America:

    Saliah Shakir is the wife of Imam Zaid Shakir. Like him, she converted to Islam during a tour of duty with the Air Force.

    Sadaf Khan studied at Zaytuna for four years and is now the Institute's Office Manager. She is also the Institute's fundraising coordinator and at the start of the 2007 school year, will assist in coordinating school curriculum.

    Marwa Elzankaly is a litigation attorney and currently a provisional partner in her firm. She earned her law degree from Santa Clara University in 1999 and passed the bar the same year.

    Uzma Husaini works as an editor in Zaytuna's publications department which includes SEASONS Journal and the Zaytuna Curriculum Series. She received her ijazah (license) to teach tajweed from Shaykh Muhammad al-Yaqoubi. She teaches a weekend class in Qur'anic recitation at Zaytuna as well as a class in Islamic studies at Las Positas Community College in Livermore, CA.

    For extended interviews with all four women, click here. And as always, please join the conversation by commenting below.


    June 22, 2007

    Growing Up Muslim in America

    Last month, the Pew Research Center conducted the first ever, nationwide, random sample survey of Muslim Americans, and some of the findings might surprise you. Here are a few key findings from the Pew Web site:

  • Roughly two-thirds (65%) of adult Muslims in the U.S. were born elsewhere. A relatively large proportion of Muslim immigrants are from Arab countries, but many also come from Pakistan and other South Asian countries. Among native-born Muslims, roughly half are African American (20% of U.S. Muslims overall), many of whom are converts to Islam.
  • Muslim Americans reject Islamic extremism by larger margins than do Muslim minorities in Western European countries. 51% of American Muslims are very concerned with the rise of Islamic extremism in the world today.
  • 62% of Muslim women believe that life is better for them in the United States than in Muslim countries.
  • But statistics never speak as loudly or clearly as first hand accounts, so we invited Eman Ahmed to speak further about her personal experience growing up as Muslim woman in America.

    A native New Yorker, Eman Ahmed is an attorney specializing in employment discrimination. She received her B.A. from St. John’s University, Suma Cum Laude, and her J.D. from New York Law School, where she also served as an editor at the New York Law School Law Review.

    Eman is an active member of the Network of Arab-American Professionals and is a member of the NYSBA Committee on Women in the Law. She appeared in the 2003 edition of Who’s Who Among American Law Students and currently appears in the Madison Who’s Who. Eman also blogs regularly on Arabisto.com.

    --------------------

    It’s funny how much has changed over the last 20 years. As one of the only Muslim students in a public elementary school in Staten Island that was strictly populated by Christian and Jewish students, I was seen more as a novelty than anything else. While the other students chowed down on cheese fries and hamburgers during lunch, I sat in my Social Studies teacher’s classroom during Ramadan, isolated from their stares and name-calling. To them, I was different and weird because for a month, I couldn’t eat or drink during the day. They had no idea what Islam was, except for the one day we learned about it in while studying the Crusades (which is a very skewed view of the religion as a whole to say the least!)

    Continue reading "Growing Up Muslim in America" »


    June 11, 2007

    Christian Parenti Answers Your Questions...

    We'd like to thank Christian Parenti for taking the time to respond so thoroughly to many of your important comments and inquiries.

    Click here for a glossary of many of the terms mentioned in these answers.

    Please note that the views and opinions expressed by Mr. Parenti are not necessarily the views and opinions held by Bill Moyers or BILL MOYERS JOURNAL.


    Photo: Robin Holland
    ------------------------------

    After five years, what is the role of U.S. and NATO forces there? Are they combating terrorists, opium growers, or the Taliban? Is the military mission in Afghanistan as vague as it is in Iraq, only with less public scrutiny?

    Posted by: Bruce from Houston | June 9, 2007 07:24 PM

    Bruce,
    The NATO mission is to stabilize Afghanistan. So they fight the Taliban and Al Qaeda and Hezb–e-Islami. After three years in Afghanistan, NATO got more serious about opium, mostly due to US domestic political pressure. The war is classic counterinsurgency: attacking the civilian base of the rebel population, kick in doors, look for weapons, search, arrest, infuriate all the men in the village while you do it. And later on the way back to base something goes bang under your Humvee. The Taliban have willing recruits but they also pay farmers to attack the NATO troops.

    I think it is all rather hopeless.
    CP

    ------------------------------

    I'm Canadian and our military folk have been in-country for a few years now. Word coming back to us seems to be that the mission of "bringing democracy" to Afghanis seems to be sufficient motivation. I'm not convinced that anyone (or any country) can, in fact, do that. I think societal evolution happens on its own time. I wonder if, in your research, you have come across any non-fiction examples of such foreign "imperialist" (if I might use the non-pejorative dictionary definition) interventions have actually had the publicly-stated intended result (after some "reasonable" period of time has elapsed)? (Understanding, of course, that NATO is not the only imperialist influence in-country).

    Perhaps the political geography of the region and what I, in my ignorance, understand to be a more-or-less constant stream of interlopers crisscrossing (and destabilizing) Afghanistan conspire against any sort of stable country, democratic or otherwise. Comments?

    Posted by: Ken Pantton | June 8, 2007 08:34 PM

    Dear Ken,
    You raise very central questions. I suppose settler colonialism after long periods of blood shed and oppression for native population tend to yield democracy and development, but other than that (and I am not endorsing settler colonialism) I think empire building is an unhelpful thing that tends only to serve the elite population (not even the majority) of the imperial power and rarely ever “the native”, as the Anti-imperialist Frantz Fannon would have put it.

    In many ways, Turkey, Iran, and Afghanistan were all rather similar at one time but Turkey had Atatürk, and Iran had Reza Shah. Afghanistan had a weak monarchy that was never able to subdue its rural landlords, bandits and tribes; it was never able to build a modern centralized state. After 1949 there was another problem: irredentist conflict with Pakistan. The Durand line, a border drawn up the British in 1893, translated into huge territorial losses for Afghanistan. It’s been a low level war between the two states ever since. You can lay that template on top of this war just as easily as upon the anti-Soviet Jihad, though each conflict also has its unique feature there is always this issue of the Durand line separating Afghanistan and Pakistan.
    CP

    ------------------------------

    Continue reading "Christian Parenti Answers Your Questions..." »


    June 8, 2007

    Ask Christian Parenti...

    Watch the videoSubmit your questions to journalist, Christian Parenti, who recently returned from his fourth trip to Afghanistan. Parenti is a regular contributor to THE NATION and has written several books, the latest being , THE FREEDOM: SHADOWS AND HALLUCINATIONS IN OCCUPIED IRAQ.

    Many have called Afghanistan, "The Forgotten Frontline," so here's your chance to learn more about this important and complicated region:

    • Curious what life is like on the ground in Afghanistan?
    • Confused about any of the many terms mentioned in the interview?
    • How does the conflict in Afghanistan compare with the war in Iraq?

    Submit your questions now as comments to this post and Mr. Parenti will answer as many as he can. We'll get you his answers next week.

    Photo: Robin Holland


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